Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing - commonly referred to as 3D printing - technology that converts liquid materials into solid parts, layer by layer, by selectively curing them using a light source in a process called photopolymerization. SLA is widely used to create models, prototypes, patterns, and production parts for a range of industries from engineering and product design to manufacturing, dentistry, jewelry, model making, and education. For a full introduction to SLA printing please read this guide by Formlabs.
SLA printing begins with a software process which processes an STL file (stereolithography file format), mathematically slicing and orienting the model for the build process. If required, support structures may be generated.
The model or part is then produced by curing a liquid resin material to form layers as the material hardens after a certain amount of exposure to UV light. A motor then horizontally shifts the vat to detach the newly cured resin from the bottom of the vat. The part is raised a small amount to allow fresh resin to coat the print surface, then the printed part is lowered and the process repeats.
The UV laser traces cross-sectional images that are generated by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package, and the part is built from the bottom up, one layer at a time.
Although as a printing technology SLA is very flexible, and it is capable of dealing with small overhangs by the support previous layers, SLA generally has some restrictions on the slope of the overhang, and cannot produce unsupported stalactites.
Various resins are available with different trade-offs between strength, optical and curing properties.
Print Material: Formlabs UV-curable resins; other resins may occasionally be used.
Print speeds: Depend on layer curing times for each resin.
Print resolution: 25 µm - 200 µm Z; 155 µm X/Y.
Please carefully read all the instructions before attempting to operate a
NEVER operate a 3D printer without proper ventilation in the area.
NEVER handle uncured resin without the proper Personal Protective Equipment.
NEVER make any modifications to the 3D printers or safety features.
NEVER attempt to use any type of resin or print material other than what is provided or approved by the staff.
NEVER place body parts, tools or other materials in the print area during operation.
AVOID breathing near the vat when it contains uncured resin.
ALWAYS treat uncured resin as hazardous material. The MSDS for each resin stocked by the Fab Lab will be available near the printer. If you supply your own resin you MUST provide the MSDS.
ALWAYS dispose of materials that have been in contact with uncured resin in the waste bin near the SLA printer.
Use of controls or adjustments or performance of procedures other than those specified herein may result in severe health risks.
If a 3D printer needs to be adjusted or serviced, please alert a staff member immediately.
NEVER attempt to make adjustments yourself or open the electronics cabinet without staff supervision. You could seriously injure yourself and damage the machine.
Some 3D printer components are sensitive to electrostatic discharge. Make sure you don't have a static charge on you before touching any electrical component of the printer. Touch a grounded object before operating or attempting any adjustments.
If opening a 3D printer cabinet for service, ensure that the power supply is turned OFF and the cord is disconnected.
Avoid touching any component of the printer during operation to achieve the best print results.
Be careful not to bump the printer as it could cause the resin to deposit unevenly.